Arts

Why the fourth of July is a wonderful day for Alice

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll's classic book Alice's Adventure in Wonderland, while this Saturday – July 4 – is the very date that the story began, writes Brian Campbell

Lewis Caroll's timeless classic has been adapted countless times for the big screen, most recently in the 2010 film Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton and starring Mia Wasikowska in the lead role

BELFAST might be famed for its connection with CS Lewis and the author’s Chronicles of Narnia books, but one attraction in the city centre has links to another classic title: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

The Alice Clock on the piazza of the Fountain Centre features a set of 10 characters from the Lewis Carroll book.

The clock features 24 bronze bells and three clock faces and was carved and painted in the German city of Lubeck by the family business Otto Buer, while the mosaic art is by Bernie Sutton.

The striking work was commissioned by the Fitzpatrick family and Irish News chairman Jim Fitzpatrick, whose late wife was also called Alice. This Saturday, July 4, is Alice’s Day – marking the date in 1862 when Charles Lutwidge Dodgson got the inspiration for his novel (written under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll).

The epicentre of the Alice’s Day celebrations is in Oxford, with up to 10,000 people expected to take part in a series of dedicated events this weekend.

The story all began on the afternoon of July 4, 1862, when Dodgson, an Oxford don, took the 10-year-old Alice Liddell and her sisters on a boating picnic up the River Thames from Folly Bridge in Oxford. He told the children a story about a little girl, sitting bored by a riverbank, who finds herself tumbling down a rabbit hole into a topsy-turvy world called Wonderland.

Alice loved the story so much that she begged Dodgson to write it down and he did. The novel was initially called Alice’s Adventures Under Ground and was published in 1865 as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, with illustrations by Sir John Tenniel.

A sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, was published in 1871. It is said that the book – commonly referred to as Alice in Wonderland – marked the birth of modern children’s literature. It is one of the most popular, most widely quoted and most widely translated children’s book ever written.

After the book’s publication, Oxford became a world centre of children’s stories and inspirational home to many authors and illustrators including Kenneth Grahame, JRR Tolkien, Philip Pullman and the Belfast-born CS Lewis.

It has been adapted countless times for the big screen, most recently in the 2010 film Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton and starring Mia Wasikowska in the lead role.

This November will mark the 150th anniversary of the book’s publication, with a host of commemorative events being held all over the world.

:: For information on Alice’s Day, visit StoryMuseum.org.uk/whats-on/alices-day/.

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